As he looked into the room beyond, his breath caught in his throat at the horrific scene just a few feet inside the glass. The young man nailed to the St. Andrew's cross was naked and blood from a huge gash in his throat drenched the lean muscular body. Nails had been driven through this wrists and feet, which were also bloodied. Corey sickened at the sight of the poor soul.
"We're calling the night crew to see if they saw or heard anything when they closed," the detective said when Corey returned to the first floor. "Maybe someone remembers him from last night."
"I saw him."
Detective Nash whirled around on him. "You did?"
"For a while," he answered. "I remember him very well. He was flirting with everyone, including me. Asking for drinks and suggesting that he may reciprocate, if you get my drift." That memory now seemed to be years ago and the fresh face of the young man was a stark contrast to the ghostly white specter he just saw.
"Buy him a drink and he may go home with you." Corey turned to face the detective squarely in the eyes. He understood. This was no mere wallflower. The victim made himself an easy target. If he teased someone and then rejected him, that could provoke a murderous ire in some people.
"Did you buy him a drink?"
Corey glanced at him sharply. That was an inappropriate remark from one law enforcement officer to another. But the detective's expression showed Corey that he meant no disrespect. Just curiosity. Or was it something else? His earlier question about the Psionic Corps' interest in the case hinted that he may have misgivings about Corey's paranormal abilities.
That's it, Corey thought. Since by his own admission at being at the scene of a crime shortly before it occurred, the detective considered him to be a suspect. He was not offended, because he would be suspicious if the positions were reversed.
"He was so plastered by the time he made it to me, he could barely stand up. I'm not picking up a drunk no matter how cute he is." Corey spoke matter-of-factly so Nash could get the point. By the slight change in the detective's posture and the tone of his voice, Corey thought he did. Even after his stout denial, he didn't look placated. "But plenty of other guys did."
"If he was so drunk, why didn't you offer to take him home instead of having him drive?" Detective Nash asked in a mean voice.
"I'm not a taxi service, detective. He wasn't showing any indication he wanted to leave, certainly not unaccompanied. I knew he'd find a ride. In more ways than one."
"Maybe he did but with the wrong person," Nash grumbled.
Now he's shifting his anger and judgment to the victim, Corey thought. "He may not have found someone at all."
"I doubt if they would've closed up if there were still customers in the bar, so he must've left with someone, who brought him back here and murdered him."
"It's too soon to be jumping to conclusions like that," Corey said, surprised that Nash made the comment.
"So you think it wasn't someone here at the Green Lantern?" the detective snapped.
"I'm just saying we can't limit our search to the guys that were here last night, detective." Corey responded.
The interrogation of Chauncey was finished and he stood behind the bar as Corey approached. He hurried over, extending his hand. "Hi, I'm Chauncey Avant the manager of the Green Lantern. Did I see you here last night?"
Corey introduced himself and Chauncey's eyes grew wide in surprise when he heard the Psionic Officer title.
"Do you recognize the victim?"
Chauncey shook his head. "I didn't see his face." He shuddered at the recollection. "As soon as I saw...him, I ran out of the room and dialed 911."
"Remember the skinny twink wearing only red gym shorts and the Celtic knot work tattoo around his right bicep?"
Chauncey searched his memory. "You mean Aiden?"
"Maybe. He didn't introduce himself to me. Are there many other guys that come in here dressed like that with that tattoo?" Corey gave him a minute.
"It's gotta be him then." The manager choked a little as he lowered his head.
"I take it he was a regular?"
"Almost every weekend." Chauncey pulled himself together. He wasn't trembling any more.
"Did you know him well?"
"Not outside of the Green Lantern. I only knew him as Aiden. I'm sure there are plenty of guys that know him better."
Of that, I have no doubt, Corey mused. "I noticed that he was very popular." He emphasized the last word with raised eyebrows.
"If you mean 'slut', yes. He was always bragging about how many men he slept with," Chauncey said sneering. "I don't think he ever brought money with him. He always wore those skimpy shorts that obviously didn't have a place for his wallet. He could get anyone to pay for his drinks. All he'd do is rub that flat stomach and his crotch up against them and he got what he wanted."
"Did he ever return the favor? Like he intimated to me?" Corey wasn't ready to admit he almost fell for Aiden's game.
Chauncey brushed some imaginary crumbs off the bar. "Yes and no. Aiden liked to tease the older guys, the uglier ones, the ones he thought didn't have a chance in hell of getting picked up. He'd make them think they could take him home, but usually he went after the young, good-looking guys. The muscular, beefy men. Those were the ones he left with."